Is "Translated" the Correct Word for
How Joseph Smith
Produced the Book of Mormon?


I have recently had a very forceful Epiphany, a major paradigm shift, yea even a transient change of heart! See Disclaimer.

There were a few weeks worth of discussion on the Internet list, Mormon-Hist on the topic of whether there is a better word than "translate," to describe how Joseph produced the Book of Mormon. (date)

1. "Divined" is more accurate, since it appears that Joseph Smith did not lean Egyptian well enough to translate from one language to another. The discussion (argument) centered on the following points.

2. Translate could also mean to reword, transform, and did not always relate to a natural linguistic conversion from one language to another.

3. One example of other people that had "translated" a piece of work from a language that they did not know, to a language that they did, was an example from the Book of Mormon itself was produced, but no other.

4. The Koran was an example of how a book could claim to have been produced by the power of God. It's relationship or contrast to how the Book of Mormon was produced, did not yield any significant information to the thesis presented.

5. Translating, by using a computer were offered to show that a person did not have to know both languages to translate. The fact that Joseph Smith didn't use a Laptop to translate the Book of Mormon, did not deter the proponents that wanted maintain t he inaccurate use of the term "Translated". In rebuttal it was pointed out that in the case of computer translation, it is the programmer that is doing the translating and must know bother languages. It was countered that some language translation software have been produced that the programmers did not know either language. In response it was argued that the computer was acting as an automated searching tools to look up dual language dictionaries and produce stilted translations, and that computers can not think, and that these programs are only used to take the drudgery out of the bulk of translation. But human translating was always the final word. Also dictionaries are the foundation of any electronic translation, but Joseph Smith didn't have a "Reformed Egyptian" dictionary.

6. One argued that Channeling was the best term for the process of producing the Book of Mormon. But like "Divining" it has good and bad connotations, thus some held strong to their position.

7. The assertion surfaced that the Mormon use of the word "Translate" was unique to Mormonism. It was counted that Joseph Smith always included the caveat that it was done with the "gift and power of God." It was never determined exactly who did the translating, God or Joseph Smith with the help of a divine tutor. The rebuttal was that the misleading term "translate" was interpreted by most Mormons to mean that Joseph Smith did the interpreting, rather than just transcribing the converted English to Oliver Cowdry. This just led to more discussion of translation being used differently, without distinguished between when it is within the same language and between languages.

8. Few argued that Joseph Smith knew Egyptian, except that he may have pick up some from Angel Moroni, on his frequent visits, which produced the counter that the such detailed visions would leave residual foreign language skills. Joseph Smith would have unintentionally used Egyptian syntax, grammar, or vocabulary in casual correspondence. Smith's supposed knowledge of Egyptian of the extent to truly translate, does not account for supposed translation errors of confusing horses for tapirs, as well as Joseph Smith problem with the Kinderhook plates, dismissed further argument about Joseph Smith retaining or possessing Egyptian language skills.

9. The argument that if Joseph Smith was simply the inspired oracle, and not the translator, then why were there interments of translation involved.

It was either Oliver Cowdrey, David Whitmer or Martain Harris that wanted to translate and were unable to use the Urim and Thummim. They were left mute. If anyone has handy the reference on this please e-mail me. (E-Mail)

Very few admitted to giving up sacred ground or admitted to adopting "divined" as more correct terminology. It appears that very little is know about what exactly it meant by "the gift and power of God" or what it means to be a translator, in the spiritual sense, verses the normal or natural linguistic sense.

At any rate here are some quotes on the subject.

Omni 1:20

20 And it came to pass in the days of Mosiah, there was a large stone brought unto him with engravings on it; and he did interpret the engravings by the gift and power of God. 

The Testimony of Three Witnesses

Be it known unto all nations, kindreds, tongues, and people, unto whom this work shall come: That we, through the grace of God the Father, and our Lord Jesus Christ, have seen the plates which contain this record, which is a record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites, their brethren, and also of the people of Jared, who came from the tower of which hath been spoken. And we also know that they have been translated by the gift and power of God, for his voice hath declared it unto us; wherefore we know of a surety that the work is true. And we also testify that we have seen the engravings which are upon the plates; and they have been shown unto us by the power of God, and not of man.

See Preface to the Book of Mormon.


Wherefore, it is an abridgment of the record of the people of Nephi, and also of the Lamanites--Written to the Lamanites, who are a remnant of the house of Israel; and also to Jew and Gentile--Written by way of commandment, and also by the spirit of prophecy and of revelation--Written and sealed up, and hid up unto the Lord, that they might not be destroyed--To come forth by the gift and power of God unto the interpretation thereof--Sealed by the hand of Moroni, and hid up unto the Lord, to come forth in due time by way of the Gentile--The interpretation thereof by the gift of God.

Preface to the Book of Mormon. 

D&C 135:3

3 Joseph Smith, the Prophet and Seer of the Lord, has done more, save Jesus only, for the salvation of men in this world, than any other man that ever lived in it. In the short space of twenty years, he has brought forth the Book of Mormon, which he translated by the gift and power of God, 

WOW, there are 4 scriptures that have the phrase " by the gift and power of God" and Infobase97 had 471 hits for the phrase.

A quick look, indicates that Joseph Smith said it in "print" about 8 of those 471 hits, and it has been repeated by others about 400 times, since some of the later references were not related to translation.

Some interesting quotes with that phrase:

It is a most serious error to believe that Jesus did everything for men if they would but confess him with their lips, and there is nothing else for them to do. Men have work to do if they would obtain salvation. It was in harmony with this eternal law that the angel directed Cornelius to Peter, and that Ananias was sent to Paul. It was likewise in obedience to this law that Moroni, who understood the writings upon the Nephite plates, did not do the translating, but under the direction of the Lord gave to Joseph Smith the Urim and Thummim by which he was able to accomplish that important work by the gift and power of God.

Joseph Fielding Smith Jr., Doctrines of Salvation, Vol.3, p.91 

Friends and Brethren: My name is Cowdery, Oliver Cowdery. In the early history of this Church, I stood identified with her, and one in her councils. True it is that the gifts and callings of God are without repentance; not because I was better than the rest of mankind was I called, to fulfill the purposes of God. He called me to a high and holy calling. I wrote with my own pen, the entire Book of Mormon (save a few pages) as it fell from the lips of the Prophet Joseph Smith, as he translated it by the gift and power of God, by means of the Urim and Thummim, or, as it is called by the book, "holy interpreters." I beheld with my eyes, and handled with my hands, the gold plates from which it was translated. I also saw with my eyes and handled with my hands the "holy interpreters."

Oliver Cowdery's Return
Joseph Fielding Smith, The Restoration of All Things, p.114 

These records were engraven on plates which had the appearance of gold, each plate was six inches wide and eight inches long, and not quite so thick as common tin. They were filled with engravings, in Egyptian characters, and bound together in a volume as the leaves of a book, with three rings running through the whole. The volume was something near six inches in thickness, a part of which was sealed. The characters on the unsealed part were small, and beautifully engraved. The whole book exhibited man y marks of antiquity in its construction, and much skill in the art of engraving. With the records was found a curious instrument, which the ancients called "Urim and Thummim," which consisted of two transparent stones set in the rims of a bow fastened to a breast plate. Through the medium of the Urim and Thummim I translated the record by the gift and power of God.

James R. Clark, Messages of the First Presidency, Vol.1, p.137 - p.138 

Having provided himself with a home, he commenced translating the records, by the gift and power of God, through the means of the Urim and Thummim; and being [p.90] a poor writer, he was under the necessity of employing a scribe to write the translation as it came from his mouth.

In the meantime, a few of the original characters were accurately transcribed and translated by Mr. Smith, which, with the translation, were taken by a gentleman named Martin Harris to the City of New York, where they were presented to a learned gentle man named Anthon, who professed to be extensively acquainted with many languages, both ancient and modern. He examined them, but was unable to decipher them correctly, but he presumed that if the original records should be brought he could assist in translating them.

But to return. Mr. Smith continued the work of translation, as his pecuniary circumstances would permit, until he had finished the unsealed part of the records. The part translated is entitled "The Book of Mormon."

Plates Translated By Power of God
Parley P. Pratt, A Voice of Warning, p.89 

Let us give consideration to the statement of the Lord to the witnesses that the plates were "translated by the gift and power of God." When Moroni told Joseph Smith of the record deposited in the Hill Cumorah, he said:

Also, that there were two stones in silver bows -- and these stones, fastened to a breastplate, constituted what is called the Urim and Thummim -- deposited with the plates; and the possession and use of these Stones were what constituted "seers" in ancient or former times; and that God had prepared them for the purpose of translating the book. (Joseph Smith 2:35.)

It was through the use of the Urim and Thummim that Joseph Smith was able to translate into English, from the gold plates, the Book of Mormon, consisting of over five hundred printed pages. This was accomplished in about sixty days time, from April 7, 1829, to the first week in June, 1829. We doubt that any other writer has ever written even a book of fiction of such magnitude in such a comparably short period of time.

The Urim and Thummim

Would it be unfair to ask what the spiritual leaders of Joseph Smith's day knew about the Urim and Thummim? Would Joseph Smith, of himself, have thought of claiming that he translated the Book of Mormon with the assistance of the Urim and Thummim? Yet, the use of the Urim and Thummim was known to the prophets of old:

Urim and Thummim, (i.e., `Light and Perfection') mentioned as the means by which the High Priest inquired of the Lord, Ex. 28:30; Lev. 8:8; Nu. 27:21; Deut. 33:8; 1 Sam. 28:6. The Urim and Thummim were clearly material objects of some kind; it has been suggested that they were (I) stones in the High Priest's breastplate. (II) sacred dice, (III) little images of "truth" and "justice" such as are found hung around the neck of an Egyptian priest's mummy. The Urim and Thummim did not exist after the Captivity -- Ezra 2:63. (A Concise Biblical Encyclopedia, p. 154.)

Since the Urim and Thummim was used by the ancient prophets as a means by which they inquired of the Lord, and since it was preserved by the hand of the Lord and delivered to Joseph Smith along with the gold plates, it would demonstrate the wisdom of God in preserving it for this sacred purpose. These facts account for the statement of the scribes for the Prophet Joseph Smith that they wrote as he dictated, and that he made no corrections. Follow the testimony of Oliver Cowdery, the chief scribe:

I wrote, with my own pen, the entire Book of Mormon (save a few pages) as it fell from the lips of the Prophet Joseph, as he translated it by the gift and power of God, by the means of the Urim and Thummim. . . . I beheld with my eyes, and handled with my hands, the gold plates from which it was transcribed. . . . That book is true. (B. H. Roberts, A Comprehensive History of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, 1965, vol. 1, p. 139.)

LeGrand Richards, A Marvelous Work and a Wonder, Ch.8, "Translated by the Gift and Power of God" p.70 - 71 

B.H. Roberts, The Seventy's Course in Theology, Second Year, p.215
4. Joseph Smith's Description of the Book of Mormon: "The records (in plates of the Book of Mormon) were engraven on plates which had the appearance of gold, each plate was six inches wide and eight inches long, and not quite so thick as common tin. They were filled with engravings, in Egyptian characters, and bound together in a volume as the leaves of a book, with three rings running through the whole. The volume was something near six inches in thickness, a part of which was sealed. The characters on the unsealed part were small, and beautifully engraved. The whole book exhibited many marks of antiquity in its construction, and much skill in the art of engraving. With the records was found a curious instrument, which the ancients called "Urim and Thummim," which consisted of two transparent stones set in the rim of a bow fastened to a breast plate. Through the medium of the Urim and Thummim I translated the record by the gift and power of God. 

Relative to the manner of translating the Book of Mormon the prophet himself has said but little. "Through the medium of the Urim and Thummim I translated the record by the gift and power of God," (Wentworth letter, Mill. Star, Vol. XIX., p. 1 18.) is the most extended published statement made by him upon the subject. Of the Urim and Thummim he says: "With the record was found a curious instrument which the ancients called a 'Urim and Thummim,' which consisted of two transparent stones set in a rim of a bow fastened to a breastplate." (Wentworth letter, Mill. Star, Vol. XIX., p. 118.)

The Manner of Translating the Book of Mormon.
(From the Y. M. M. I. A. Manual (Senior), 1905-6.)
B. H. Roberts, Defense of the Faith and the Saints, Vol.1, p.255 

That is the only theory the Manual has upon the subject. The foregoing quotation from the prophet is all he has said with reference to the manner of the translation, and we could wish that all other persons, necessarily less informed upon the subject than the prophet himself, had been content to leave the matter where he left it. In this, however; they did not follow his wise example; but must needs undertake to describe the manner of the translation; and, from such description has arisen the idea that the Urim and Thummim did all, in the work of the translation, the prophet, nothing; except to read to his amanuensis what he saw reflected in the seer-stone or Urim and Thummim, which the instruments, and not the prophet, had translated. The men responsible for those statements, on which said theory rests, are David Whitmer and Martin Harris. The former says:

A piece of Something resembling parchment did appear, (i.e., in Urim and Thummim), and on that appeared the writing, one character at a time would appear, and under it was the translation in English. Brother Joseph would read off the English to Brother Oliver Cowdery, who was his principal scribe, and then it was written down and repeated to Brother Joseph to see if it was correct; then it would disappear and another character with the translation would appear. Thus the Book of Mormon was translated by the gift and power of God, and not by any power of man. (Address to all Believers in Christ, by David Whitmer, page 12.)

B. H. Roberts, Defense of the Faith and the Saints, Vol.1, p.276 

"By aid of the seer stone, sentences would appear, and were read by the prophet, and written by Martin, and when finished he would say "written," and if correctly written that sentence would disappear, and another appear in its place; but if not written correctly, it remained until corrected so that the translation was just as it was engraven on the plates precisely in the language then used. (Millennial Star, vol. 24, page 86-87.)

B. H. Roberts, Defense of the Faith and the Saints, Vol.1, p.277 

"But the important fact in this important matter is, that Joseph Smith really received these ancient records, containing much of the history of this continent and an account of the dealings of God with the early inhabitants thereof; that he translated them into the English language; and that, according to the testimony of the three witnesses--Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer and Martin Harris--the voice of the Lord declared that they were translated "by the gift and power of God," and there fore they were translated correctly. As to the exact modus operandi, there is nothing on record that we know of as coming from the Prophet himself.

B. H. Roberts, Defense of the Faith and the Saints, Vol.1, p.298 

Why all this concern, then, about the language or languages of the Book of Mormon? If we had the original text, which we do not, and if we could read it, which we cannot, any translation we might make of it would still be inferior to that which was given, as we claim it was, by the gift and power of God. If we had the original text, scholars would be everlastingly squabbling about it and getting out endless new and revised translations, as in the case of the Bible. In fact, if our English text of the Book of Mormon came to us in any other way than by revelation it would be almost worthless! For members and investigators could ask of every verse: "But how do we know it is translated correctly?" A revealed text in English is infinitely to be preferred to an original in a language that no one on earth could claim as his own. It frees the members and leaders of the Church as it frees the investigating world from the necessity of becoming philologists, or, worse still, of having to rely on the judgment of philologists, as a prerequisite to understanding this great book. At the same time, it puts upon the modern world an obligation to study and learn, from which that world could easily plead immunity were the book in an ancient language or couched in the labored and pretentious idiom that learned men adopt when they try to decipher ancient texts.

Collected Works of Hugh Nibley, Vol.8, Ch.3, p.96 - p.97 

Doctrine and Covenants 5-9; Joseph Smith History 1 :66-67

Scriptural Highlights

1. Martin Harris is to be one of the witnesses of the Book of Mormon plates if he repents.

2. Oliver Cowdery comes to serve as Joseph Smith's scribe.

3. Joseph and Oliver receive revelations during the time of translation.

Invite one or two class members to share their experiences of gaining a testimony or receiving revelation from the Lord.

Discussion and Application Questions

* What did Martin Harris have to do so he could see the gold plates? (D&C 5:24-28.) What are some challenges to our becoming more humble? How can we overcome these challenges and become more humble?

* What responsibility did the Lord say Martin Harris would have after seeing the Book of Mormon plates? (D&C 5:25.) Why is it important that we bear testimony of gospel truths? How have you been blessed by other people bearing their testimonies?

* According to the Lord's instructions in D&C 6:6-7, what should be our purpose in serving the Lord? Why is it important that we focus on this purpose? How can we improve our commitment to establish the cause of Zion in our everyday living?

* In D&C 5, 6, and 8, the Lord spoke of gifts he had given Joseph Smith and Oliver Cowdery and promised even greater gifts if they were obedient. (D&C 5:4; 6:10-13; 8:3-8.) How can we know when we have received a gift from the Lord? What gifts does the Lord bestow on people today? Why does he bestow these gifts? (D&C 46:8-12, 26.)

* Why do you think Oliver wanted to obtain the gift of translation? (D&C 6:25-28; 8:11; 9:1.) What did the Lord tell him about this desire? (D&C 9:2-4, 10, 12.) What can we learn from this about seeking gifts or blessings from the Lord? (See al so D&C 11:10; 46:8.) (end of page 9)

Lesson 5

* The Lord cautioned Oliver, "Trifle not with sacred things" (D&C 6:12; see also D&C 8:10). What does this mean? How might some of us trifle with sacred things?

* How did Oliver Cowdery gain a testimony that Joseph Smith was a prophet of God? (See D&C 6:14-15, 22-23, and the quotation from the Prophet Joseph Smith.) How have you gained your testimony that Joseph Smith is a prophet?

* What did the Lord tell Oliver to do if he wanted a "further witness" of Joseph's divine calling? (D&C 6:22-23). Why do you think Oliver desired a further witness even after the Lord had spoken peace to his mind? Why do we sometimes seek further witnesses? How can we become more trusting of the peace that God speaks to our minds?

* How can following the Lord's counsel in D&C 6:33-36 help us?

* What can Oliver Cowdery's attempt to translate teach us about receiving revelation from God? (D&C 8:2-3; 9:7-9.) What have you learned from your own experiences about receiving divine revelation? As part of the process of receiving revelation, why might the Lord expect us to study matters out in our own minds? (Ether 2:22-23; 3:1-9.)

Quotation The Prophet Joseph Smith: "Oliver Cowdery stated to me that after he had gone to my father's to board, and after the family had communicated to him concerning my having obtained the plates, that one night after he had retired to bed he called upon the Lord to know if these things were so, and the Lord manifested to him that they were true" (History of the Church, 1 :35).

Additional Idea Suggested topic for family home evening: "Learning to Recognize the Spirit," lesson 15 in the Family Home Evening Resource Book.

Next Week's Reading Assignment Doctrine and Covenants 4; 11-16; Joseph Smith - History 1 :68-75

Class member study Guide.

After the loss of the 116 pages of manuscript, Martin Harris was not permitted to act as scribe for the Prophet Joseph Smith. Later, however, Martin asked the Prophet if he could be one of the three witnesses of the gold plates. Joseph inquired of the Lord and received D&C 5 (see also D&C 17).

For a brief time in Harmony, Pennsylvania, Joseph translated some of the plates with Emma as his scribe. But earning a living left little time for the work. The Lord promised to provide help so that Joseph could complete the translation (see D&C 5: 34). On 5 April 1829 a young man named Oliver Cowdery came to Joseph's door. He soon began serving as Joseph's scribe (see JS -H 1 :66-67).

Doctrine and Covenants 6-9 were given to Joseph and Oliver during the early months of 1829 as they translated the Book of Mormon.

As you study D&C 5-9, consider the following:

* What did Martin Harris have to do so he could see the gold plates? (D&C 5:24-28.) What can we do to become more humble?

* What did the Lord tell Oliver to do if he wanted a "further witness" of Joseph's divine calling? (D&C 6:22-23). How can we become more trusting of the peace that God speaks to our minds?

* What can Oliver Cowdery's attempt to translate teach us about receiving revelation from God? (D&C 8:2-3; 9:7-9.) What have you learned from your own experiences about receiving divine revelation?

Harmony, Pennsylvania, where Joseph and Emma lived for a time. Here Joseph translated much of the Book of Mormon in early 1829 and received at least fifteen revelations (D&C 3-13, 24-27). Photograph by George E. Anderson, 1907.

(Bottom of page 10) 

"Now the first that my husband translated, was translated by use of the Urim and Thummim, and that was the part that martin Harris lost, after that [my husband] used a small stone, not exactly black, but was rather a dark color"

Emma Smith Bidamon, Letter to Emma S. Pilgrim, 27 March 1876. Research Library ad Archives, RLDS, Independence, Missouri.

"By fervent prayer and by otherwise humbling himself, the prophet however, again found favor, and was presented with a strange, oval-shaped, chocolate-colored stone, about the size of an egg, only more flat, which, it was promised would serve the same purpose as the missing Urim and Thummim. . . . With this stone all of the present Book of Mormon was translated"

David Whitmer, Interview, 14 Jan. 1885, by Zenos H. Gurley. Archives, Historical Department, LDS church, Salt Lake, Ut.

"One of Joseph's aids in searching out the truths of the [Book of Mormon] was a peculiar pebble of rock which he called a seer stone, and which was sometimes used by him in lieu of the Urim and Thummim" George Q. Cannon, "Life of Joseph Smith", 1888, p. 56.

"The seer stone referred to here was a chocolate-colored, somewhat egg-shaped stone which the Prophet found while digging a well in company with his brother Hyrum, for a Mr. Clark Chase, near Palmyra, N.Y. It possessed the qualities of Urim and Thummim, since by means of it - as described above, - as well as by means of the Interpreters found with the Nephite record, Joseph was able to translate the characters engraven on the plates".

B. H. Roberts, "Defense of the Faith and the Saints," 2 Vols, Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1907-12 1:257; "New Witness for God," 3 Vols, Salt Lake City: Deseret News, 1909, 2:108; "A Comprehensive History of The Church ...

6 vols, 1930, 1:129. 

Doctrine and Covenants 17-19 Lesson 7 (Some excerpts)

* The Lord cautioned Martin Harris to revile not against revilers. (D&C 19:30.) How should we respond to those who speak against the Church or against us personally? (See the quotation from Elder Ashton.)

* While admonishing Martin Harris to keep his promise to pay for the printing of the Book of Mormon, the Lord emphasized the principle of repentance. (D&C 19:15, 20.) In what ways do we suffer if we do not repent?

(D&C 19:4, 20; Alma 5:18; 36:12-13; 42:22, 24.) How can a person who feels troubled by his sins find peace? How might the unrepentant be "stirred up unto repentance"? (D&C 18:6).

* How does the Lord's counsel to Martin Harris in D&C 19:21 and 31 apply to us? Why do you think the Lord wants us to emphasize repentance?

* The Lord commanded Martin Harris, "Thou shalt not covet shine own property" (D&C 19:26). How is it possible to covet our own property? How can we be sure we are correctly using the material blessings the Lord has given us? (Jacob 2:18-1 9; Mosiah 4:16, 21, 26; D&C 42:30.)

The Lord has declared that "in the mouth of two or three witnesses" every word shall be established (Matthew 18:16; 2 Corinthians 13:1). While translating the Book of Mormon plates, Joseph Smith learned that the Lord would provide three special witnesses of the plates. Oliver Cowdery, David Whitmer, and Martin Harris asked Joseph to inquire of the Lord to learn whether they could be these witnesses. Joseph went to the Lord and received D&C 17.

In June 1829, not long after this revelation was received, Joseph, Oliver, David, and Martin went into the woods near the Whitmer home and prayed earnestly for the promised manifestation. They prayed for some time with no result. Martin Harris decided to leave the group, feeling that his unworthiness was the reason they did not obtain what they asked for.

Shortly thereafter an angel appeared to the Prophet, Oliver, and David. He held the plates in his hands and "turned over the leaves one by one." The three men also heard a voice out of the bright light above them, saying: "These plates have been revealed by the power of God, and they have been translated by the power of God. The translation of them which you have seen is correct, and I command you to bear record of w hat you now see and hear" (History of the Church, 1:54-55).

Joseph then went to find Martin, who had gone some distance away and engaged in fervent prayer. Joseph joined him in prayer, and soon they were able to see and hear the same things that Oliver and David had.

Several days later, Joseph Smith showed the plates to eight other witnesses in a secluded setting near the Smith family home in Manchester, New York.

* As you read D&C 18, consider how your experiences have shown you that "the worth of souls is great in the sight of God" (D&C 18:10). How have your efforts to bring souls to God brought you joy?

Doctrine and Covenants 19 was directed to Martin Harris. In this revelation the Lord described his great suffering for each of us and commanded us to repent. He instructed Martin to pay the cost of printing the first 5,000 copies of the Book of Mormon as Martin had already promised to do. Martin did this by selling part of his farm. (See D&C 19:34-35.) 

Subject: Martin Harris looses the 116 pages

When Joseph had taken a little nourishment [after his arrival from Harmony] ... he requested us to send immediately for Mr. Harris. This we did without delay... For a short time previous to Joseph's arrival, Mr. Harris had been otherwise engaged, and thought but little about the manuscript.

When Joseph sent for him, he went immediately to the drawer where he had left it, but, behold it was gone! He asked his wife where it was. She solemnly averred that she did not know anything respecting it. He then made a faithful search throughout the house... ?[After we had sent for Martin Harris], we commenced preparing breakfast for the family, and we supposed that Mr. Harris would be there, as soon as it was ready, to eat with us, for he generally came in such haste when he was sent for. At eight o'clock we set the victuals on the table, as we were expecting him every moment. We waited till nine, and he came not ?? till ten, and he was nor there ?? till eleven, still he did not make his appearance. But at half past twelve we saw him walking with a slow and measured tread towards the house, his eyes fixed thoughtfully upon the ground. On coming to the gate, he stopped, instead of passing through, and got upon the fence, and sat there some time with his hat drawn over his eyes. At length he entered the house. Soon after which we sat down to the table, Mr. Harris with the rest. He took up his knife and fork as if he were going to use them, but immediately dropped them. Hyrum, observing this, said, "Martin, why do you not eat; are you sick? Upon which, Mr. Harris pressed his hands upon his temples, and cried out, in a tone of deep anguish, "Oh, I have lost my soul! I have lost my soul!" Joseph, who had not expressed his fears till now, sprang from the table, exclaiming, Martin, have you lost that manuscript? have you broken your oath, and brought down condemnation upon my head, as well as your own?" "Yes, it is gone, " replied Martin, "and I know not where." "Oh, my God!'" said Joseph, clinching his hands. "All is lost! all is lost!

What shall I do? I have sinned it is I who tempted the wrath of God. I should have been satisfied with the first answer which I received from the Lord; for he told me that it was not safe to let the writing go out of my possession." He wept and groaned, and walked the floor continually. At length he told Martin to go back and search again. "No," said Martin, "it is all in vain; for I have ripped open beds and pillows; and I know it is not there." "Then must I," said Joseph, "return to my wife with such a tale as this? I dare not do it, lest I should kill her at once. And how shall I appear before the Lord? Of what rebuke am I not worthy from the angel of the Most High?" I besought him not to mourn so, for perhaps the Lord would forgive him, after a short season of humiliation and repentance. But what could I say to comfort him, when he saw all the family in the same situation of mind as himself; for sobs and groans, and the most bitter lamentation filled the house. However, Joseph was more distressed than the rest, as he better understood the consequences of disobedience. And he continued, pacing back and forth, meantime weeping and grieving, until about sunset, when, by persuasion, he took a little nourishment ... The manuscript [Martin Harris lost] has never been found; and there is no doubt but Mrs. Harris took it from the drawer, with the view of retaining it, until another translation should be given, then, to alter the original translation, for the pur pose of showing a discrepancy between them, and thus make the whole appear to be a deception. "Lucy Smith, Biographical Sketches", pp. 120, 121, 123. Quoted in Milton v. Backman, Jr., "Eyewitness Accounts of the Restoration", (Grand in Book, 1983) p. 87-88. 

The Yearly Moroni Visits

From D. Michael Quinn's _Early Mormonism and the Magic World View,_ Salt Lake, 1987, pp. 133 - 143.

Some text has been skipped indicated by ellipses. Ellipses in quote marks are as Quinn has presented them. Some footnotes are included in "{}".

Bibliographic references can be found in Quinn's book.

--begin text--

All official and unofficial, traditional and nontraditional, friendly and unfriendly sources agree that Smith was not able to obtain the gold plates on 22 September 1823. Instead he returned to the hill on exactly the same day each year until 1827. Non e of these accounts explains why the visits had to occur each year on exactly the same day. ... The specific day continued to coincide with the autumn equinox. Thus Smith visited the Hill Cumorah annually from 1823 to 1827 to fulfill his original quest to "commune with some kind of messenger".

Although absent from Smith's presently available first-person narratives, both early Mormon and non-Mormon sources agree that on 22 September 1823 Moroni required Smith to bring his oldest brother Alvin to the hill the following year in order to obtain the gold plates. About ten years later, one of Smith's devout followers, Joseph Knight, recorded Smith's relating that the following dialogue occurred on the hill in 1823: "Joseph says, if you Bring the right person with you. Joseph says, 'who is the right Person?' The answer was 'your oldest Brother.' But before September [1824] Came his oldest Brother Died. Then he was Disappointed and did not [k]now what to do. (Jessee 1976a, 31; also Hartley 1986, 20). The Smith's non- Mormon Palmyra neighbor Willard Chase reported in 1833: "He then enquired when he *could* have them, and was answered thus: come one year from this day, and bring with you your oldest brother, and you shall have them. This spirit, he said was the spirit of the prophet who wrote this book, and who was sent to Joseph Smith, to make known these things to him. Before the expiration of the year, [Smith's] oldest brother died" (W. Chase 1833, 241-42, emphasis in original). Nearly forty years later, Fayette Lapham remembered that Smith's father told him in 1830 that "Joseph asked when he could have them; and the answer was, 'Come in one year from this time, and bring your oldest brother with you; then you may have them.' During that year, it so happened that his oldest brother died" (F. Lapham 1870, 2:386).

In 1884, a third Palmyra neighbor, Lorenzo Saunders, Benjamin Saunders's brother, was asked, "Did you ever hear Joe give an account of finding the plates?" He replied: "Yes. He gave the account in my father's house. He said he was in the woods at prayer and the angel touched him on the shoulders and he arose, and the angel told him where the plates were and he could take his oldest Brother with him in a year from that time and go and get them. But his oldest Brother died before the year was out" (L. Saunders 1884a, 9-10; also Saunders 1884c, 16). At present, no available evidence explains why Moroni in September 1823 required Alvin's presence the following year. ... Joseph was the son who had the theophany, but according to the family's Palmyra neighbors, prior to 1823 Lucy and Joseph Sr. both had said they looked to their first son Alvin, not their third, as the family seer. Orsamus Turner first met the Smiths in Palmyra about 1819-20 and later commented: "Their son, Alva [sic], was originally intended, or designated, by fireside consultations, and solemn and mysterious out door hints, as the forth coming Prophet. The mother and father said he was the chosen one; but Alvah ... sickened and died" (O.

Turner 1851, 213). J. H. Kennedy said that in Vermont, Lucy Mack Smith "announced the advent of a prophet in her family, and on the death of Alvah [sic], the first born, the commission that had been intended for him was laid upon Joseph." (Kennedy 1888, 12) {Both Turner and Kennedy mistakenly referred to Joseph Smith's brother Alvin by the name of Joseph's first child Alva(h), named after Emma Hale's brother.} Although Joseph Jr. was a treasure seer in New York and in Pennsylvania by 1822 (Blackman 1873, 580- 81; W. Chase 1833, 240-41), the Palmyra neighbors also identified Alvin as a treasure-seeker and seer prior to his death in November 1823 (L.

Saunders 1884c, 9; cf. W Chase 1833, 240-41; Quinn 1987, chap 2).

Moreover, his mother observed that "Alvin manifested, if such could be the case, greater zeal and anxiety in regard to the Record [of the Book of Mormon] that had been shown to Joseph, than any of the rest of the family" (L. M. Smith 1853, 89 -90). But with Alvin's unexpected death on 19 November 1823, it seems that Joseph Jr. again shouldered the primary responsibility in his family's search for treasure.

Given the messenger's requirement for the second visit to the Hill Cumorah, the intensity of the Smith family's despair over Alvin's death less than two months later is understandable. Alvin's last words to his brother Joseph were to "do everything that lies in your power to obtain the Record.

Be faithful in receiving instruction, and keeping every commandment that is given to you. Your brother Alvin must leave you" (L. M. Smith 1853, 88).

Alvin's final charge underscored the dilemma Joseph now faced: he had been commanded to meet the angelic treasure-guardian at the hill the following 22 September 1824 and to bring Alvin with him. By some accounts, Smith had been violently jolted three times and severely chastised for disobeying instructions during his first visit, and Mormon convert Joseph Knight wrote that now Smith "did not [k]now what to do" (Jessee 1976a, 31). One can only imagine the turmoil Smith would have experienced during the ten months between the death of his eldest brother on 19 November 1823 and his next solitary visit to the hill.

Smith's own available histories give no details of the visits to the hill between 1824 and 1826, but it seems likely that he hoped to obtain the plates on 22 September 1824 even though he did not bring Alvin. The day was a stinging disappointment. According to Smith's 1832 autobiography, the messenger told him "to come again in one year from that time [1823]. I did so [in 1824], but did not obtain them" (Jessee 1984b, 77; Faulring 1987, 51). His friend Joseph Knight wrote, "But when the 22nt Day of September Came he went to the place and the personage appeard [sic] and told him he Could not have it now" (Jessee 1976a, 31). Lorenzo Saunders remembered that Smith told him, "At the end of the time he went to the place to get the plates the angel asked where his Brother was. I told him he was dead." Fayette Lapham recalled the story as "Joseph repaired to the place again, and was told by the man who still guarded the treasure, that, inasmuch as he could not bring his oldest brother, he could not have the treasure yet" (L. Saunders 1884a, 10; Lapham 1870, 2:386). As Smith left the hill in disappointment on 22 September 1824, apparently the message he had received was: without your dead brother Alvin, you cannot have t he gold plates.

Within days of this second unsuccessful visit to the hill, local events indicated that someone evidently contemplated remedying the impasse by exhuming Alvin's body. Joseph Smith, Sr., published a notice, dated 25 September 1824, in the Palmyra newspaper, denying "reports [that] have been industriously put in circulation, that my son, Alvin, had been removed from the place of his internment and dissected." He chastised town gossips for disturbing the peace of mind of a still-grieving parent, and then made two comments that allude to his son Joseph as target of such gossip: "[these rumors] deeply wound the feelings of relations ... [and] have been stimulated more by desire to injure the reputation of certain persons than a philanthropy for the peace and welfare of myself and friends" (Wayne Sentinel, 29 Sept.-3 Nov. 1824; Kirkham 1951, 1:147; Rich 1970, 256).

Biographers of Joseph Smith to the present have consistently ignored Mormon and non-Mormon sources concerning Moroni's requirement to bring the now- deceased Alvin to the hill, and therefore have regarded this as a bizarre incident explainable only by neighborhood malice (Brodie 1945, 28; D. Hill 1977, 60; Gibbons 1977, 42; Bushman 1984, 65).

However, the treasure-guardian's unfulfilled requirements to bring the now-deceased Alvin provided a context for such rumors and denials. ...

Even though they were influenced by the magic world view, none of the Smiths may have actually considered this drastic option, but someone in the family obviously described the angel's requirement and Joseph's predicament to neighborhood friends, since Willard Chase, Lorenzo Saunders, and Fayette Lapham all knew about the situation. Someone evidently talked openly about the possibility of using part of Alvin's remains to fulfill the requirement of the treasure guardian by necromancy, and village rumors required the denial, which Joseph Smith, Sr., published in six consecutive issues of the local weekly. Without providing details, E. D. Howe's Mormonism Unvailed claimed that young Joseph became "very expert in the arts of necromancy" (E. D. Ho we 1834, 12). And a year later, Oliver Cowdery's published history of the new church also referred, without details, to rumors that Smith dug treasure "by some art of nicromancy" [necromancy] (O. Cowdery 1835, 2:201; Kirkham 1951, 1:103).

All existing second-hand accounts agree that the treasure-guardian next required Smith to bring another person with him in September 1825. Mormon convert Joseph Knight wrote that in 1824 the "personage appeard [sic] and told him he Could not have it now. But the 22nt Day of September nex[t] he mite have the Book if he Brot with him the right person. Joseph says, 'who is the right Person?' The answer was you will know" (Jessee 1976a, 31).

{Knight added that the person required was Smith's future wife Emma Hale.

This would seem to be wrong, though, because by her father's and Smith's own accounts, he and Emma did not meet until he was working for Josiah Stowell in Harmony, Pennsylvania, in October-November 1825 (I. Hale 1834; HC 1:17). It is likely that Knight omitted the 1825 visit involving Samuel F. Lawrence because of its unsuccessful outcome.} One visit to the hill between 1823 and 1827 seems to be missing in several accounts, and the omission was somehow connected to Samuel F. Lawrence, a neighborhood seer.

Knight indicated that Lawrence had something to do with a visit to the Hill Cumorah. "I will say there [was] a man near By [sic] By the name Samuel Lawrance [sic]. He was a Seear [sic] and he had Bin to the hill and knew about things in the hill" (Jessee 1976a, 32). Lorenzo Saunders remembered Smith telling him, "The angel told him there would be another appointed.

Joseph chose Samuel Lawrence. But he did not go" (L. Saunders 1884a, 10).

Neighbor Willard Chase provided the fullest account in 1833: "Joseph believed that one Samuel T. [sic] Lawrence was the man alluded to by the spirit, and went with him to a singular looking hill, in Manchester, and shewed him where the treasure was. Lawrence asked him if he had ever discovered any thing with the plates of gold; he said no: he then asked him to look in his stone, to see if there was any thing with them. He looked, and said there was nothing; he told him to look again, and see if there was not a large pair of specks with the plates; he looked and soon saw a pair of spectacles, the same with which Joseph says he translated the Book of Mormon." That this visit to the hill with Lawrence occurred in 1825 is indicated by Chase's next comment: "Lawrence told him it would not be prudent to let these plates be seen for about two years, as it would make a big disturbance in the neighborhood [which did occur in September 1827].

Not long after this, Joseph altered his mind, and said L. was not the right man, nor had he told him the right place" (W. Chase 1833, 242).

From existing accounts, there may be an explanation for what seems to be the intentional omission of one visit to the hill as Joseph Knight and Joseph Smith referred to the events from 1823 to 1827 (Jessee 1976a; Jessee 1984b, 77; Faulring 1987, 51-52) . Although indicating that the visit with Lawrence occurred in 1825, Willard Chase did not indicate that the visit occurred on 22 September. Joseph Smith may have taken Lawrence to the hill to look for the plates prior to the required date in 1825, and Chase's account does indicate that Joseph Smith was not happy about the results of their activities on that occasion. This may be why Lorenzo Saunders reported of the visit on 22 September 1825 that Lawrence "did not go," even though Joseph Smith had previously chosen him. Both Chase and Saunders report that the effort to obtain the plates with Lawrence was a failure.

That failure may be directly indicated by the fact that none of these accounts of Smith's visit to the hill with Lawrence mention the angel. If the messenger did not appear on the hill in September 1825, the nonappearance of Moroni may be the reason for the omission of the one visit.

The hope and disappointment Smith may have experienced with Lawrence in the quest for Cumorah's treasure in September 1825 was repeated later that year in Harmony, Pennsylvania. Joseph Smith's treasure seeking expedition with Josiah Stowell ended first in failure to obtain the treasure, and then in a nearby court the following March (Quinn 1987, chap. 2). But the redeeming incident of his second disappointment in 1825 ultimately resolved Smith's continuing dilemma about whom he should take to the hill.

While engaged in this treasure-seeking venture in the fall of 1825, Smith met Isaac Hale and his twenty-one-year-old daughter Emma at Harmony, and she immediately attracted this young man's interest (I. Hale 1834, 262-63; L. M. Smith 1853, 92; HC 1:17; Newell and Avery 1984, 17-18). Smith, however, was only nineteen years old, and men in his family generally married much later. His eldest brother died unmarried at 25, the next oldest married at 25, their father had married at 24, and three of his uncle s had married at 28,34 and 38. Uncle Jesse had been the youngest man in two generations of the Smith family to marry, and he waited until 21 (M.

Anderson 1929, 65-66, 74). Joseph Jr. appears to have broken with that expectation in order to fulfill the requirements of Moroni to obtain the gold plates.

From every available account, Smith had little reason to hope for success as he ascended the hill to commune with the messenger on 22 September 1826.

His own disobedience as an over-eager treasure-seeker had thwarted the visit of 1823, Alvin's death had left the requirement unfulfilled in 1824 and had caused a village uproar over rumors of necromantic grave-robbing, Samuel Lawrence had apparently failed him as a fellow seer in 1825, and now Smith went to the appointed spot with no idea what he should do next.

Joseph Knight described the condition of renewed hope and anxiety when Smith met "with the personage which told him if he would Do right according to the will of God he might obtain [the plates] the 22nt Day of September Next and if not he never would have them." Smith learned from his seer stone what the requirement was: "Then he looked in his glass and found it was Emma Hale, Daughter of old Mr. Hail of Pensylvany, a girl that he had seen Before, for he had Bin Down there Before with m e" (Jessee 1976a, 31- 32; Hartely 1986, 21).

But, as Palmyra neighbors learned, the requirement was not simply to bring an acquaintance to the hill. Henry Harris testified in 1833 that Smith told him that "an angel appeared, and told him he could not get the plates until he was married, and that when he saw the woman that was to be his wife, he should know her, and she would know him." Smith also related this requirement to Lorenzo Saunders (H. Harris 1833, 252; L. Saunders 1884c, 16). Other residents remembered that "it was freely talked among the neighbors that Jo Smith said he had a revelation to go to Pennsylvania and get him a wife" (S. Walker 1888, 1; W. R. Hine 1888, 2).

His visit to the hill in September 1826 seems to have been the reason the twenty-year-old Smith was determined to set aside his family's tradition of delayed marriage and even to ignore the opposition of his intended father- in-law: he had to marry Emm a Hale within a year or the gold plates of Cumorah would be lost forever. The number of visits he subsequently made to the Hale home in Pennsylvania is unclear, but there were several. When Smith asked permission of Isaac Hale to marry his daughter, Hale, in his affidavit, said he refused because of the young man's treasure-seeking background (I. Hale 1834, 243). ...

His money-digging friends were hardly the allies Smith needed to overcome Hale's opposition, but they, more than anyone else, would have understood the necessity of complying with the requirement of the treasure guardian.

First, Joseph Smith turned to Samuel F. Lawrence for assistance. Willard Chase testified that sometime during "the fall of 1826, [Joseph] wanted to go to Pennsylvania to be married; but being destitute of means, he now set his wits to work, how he should raise money, and get recommendations, to procure the fair one of his choice. He went to [Samuel F.] Lawrence with the following story, as stated to me by Lawrence himself. That he had discovered in Pennsylvania, on the bank of the Susquehannah [Susquehanna] River, a very rich mine of silver, and if he would go there with him, he might have a share in the profits ... When the got to Pennsylvania, Joseph wanted L.

to recommend him to Miss H[ale]., which he did ... L. then wished to see the silver mine, and he and Joseph went to the river, and made search, but found nothing" (W. Chase 1833, 243-244). This incident only reinforced Smith's reputation for treasure seeking, got him no closer to the kind of secular respectability Hale demanded, and probably led to the final estrangement between him and his previous treasure-seeking associate Samuel F. Lawrence.

>From among the treasure diggers, Smith turned next to the prosperous Joseph Knight to borrow horses and a sleigh for an impressive, but still unsuccessful, attempt for Hale's permission as the winter's snow fell (Jessee 1976a, 32; Newell and Avery 1984, 18-19). When Smith turned twenty-one in late December, he was still nine months away from the night when he was to bring Emma to the hill as his wife. He no doubt felt that the gold plates would be lost if he had to depend on obtaining permission from Emma's father to marry.

Less that a month later, Smith enlisted the help of a third treasure-seeker to obtain Emma Hale as a wife according to the requirement of Moroni. Emma did not mention her father's claim that this happened while he was away from home on business, but later told her children, "I was visiting at Mr.

[Josiah] Stowell's, who lived at Bainbridge, and saw your father there. I had no intention of marrying when I left home; but, during my visit at Mr.

Stowell's, your father visited me there. My folks were bitterly opposed to him; and, being importuned by your father, aided by Mr. Stowell, who urged me to marry him, and preferring to marry him to any other man I knew, I consented." The couple eloped on 18 January 1827 (E. Smith 1879, 289; I.

Hale 1834, 363; HC 1:17; D. Hill 1977, 69; Youngreen 1982, 5-6). In commenting about this, Mormons typically speak of romance and Smith's love for Emma as the reason for their elopement (e.g. Cadwell 1879). It is more probable, however, that Smith risked alienating his parents-in-law from his new bride by eloping - not for love alone - but to fulfill the requirement of Moroni.

According to Palmyra neighbors, as the appointed day in September 1827 approached, Smith made additional preparations to assure the success of his last opportunity to obtain the gold plates. Willard Chase stated that Smith was required to "repair to the place where was deposited this manuscript, dressed in black clothes, and riding a block horse with a switch tail, and demand the book in a certain name ... They according fitted out Joseph with a suit of black clothes and borrowed a black horse." Chase thought that this applied to the 1823 visit, but all of Smith's own accounts of the events of 1823 preclude the time necessary for such preparations. And Lorenzo Saunders said that the requirement for blackness applied to the 1827 visit (W. Chase 1833, 242; L. Saunders 1884b, 11).

Without mentioning the color, both Joseph Knight and Lucy Mac Smith noted that Smith borrowed Knight's horse and carriage for the September 1827 visit to the hill (Jessee 1976a, 33; L. M. Smith 1853, 100-101).

Contemporary evidence may support the neighbors' claim that Smith used the color black to help obtain the gold plates in 1827. Dr. Gain Robinson, "an old friend" of the Smith family (L. M. Smith 1853, 95; L. Porter 1971, 74), owned a store in Palmyra, and his account books of the purchases by the Smiths from 1825 to 1829 show that the first time any of the Smiths purchased lampblack from his store was on 18 September 1827 - four days before Smith's final visit to the hill - the entry for this particular purchase beginning "Joseph Smith for Son" (G. Robinson 1825; G. Robinson 1826; G. Robinson 1827). Lampblack was a common pigment used to paint objects a deep black color (Webster's 1981). ...

After the anticipation and frustration of the four previous visits, Smith prepared "about twelve o'clock" midnight on Friday, 21 September 1827, to go with Emma to the hill for the plates. Josiah Stowell and Joseph Knight, his only treasure-seeking associates not now arrayed against him, had arrived on 20 September and were asleep in the Smith home (L. M. Smith 1853, 99-100; Hartley 1986, 23). ...

Smith's sister later stated that in order to obtain the gold plates "he was commanded to go on the 22d day of September 1827 at 2 o'clock" (Salisbury 1886) ... Emma's cousins reported that she "stood with her back toward him, while he du g up the box" (Lewis and Lewis 1879).

Husband and wife did not return from the hill until the family met for breakfast on 22 September 1827. Joseph Knight best captured the excitement Smith expressed that morning: "'it is ten times Better than [sic] I expected.' Then he went on to tell the length and width and thickness of the plates, and said he, 'they appear to be Gold' " (Jessee 1976a, 33; also L. M. Smith 1853, 100-101).

According to Joseph Smith, his mother, and early converts, he spent the next several months defending himself and the plates from the efforts of his former treasure-digging associates to seize what the regarded as a gold treasure rightly theirs. 

Subject: D&C 5-9

Doctrine and Covenants

-Section 5- 2-4: God gave Joseph the gift to translate 11-13,15: Three witnesses 14: Church is terrible Instructions to Martin Harris

-Section 6- 9: teaching the gospel should have repentance of sins as a goal. (#1, p 77) -"In the revelation to Oliver Cowdery, and to several others who came to ask what the Lord would have them do, the Lord said: [D&C 6:9]. We must not infer from this expression that those who went forth to preach were limited in their teachings so that all they could say was 'repent of your sins', but in teaching the principle of the Gospel they should do so with the desire to teach repentance to the people and bring them in humility to a realization of the need for remission of sins. Even today in all of our preaching it should be with the desire to bring people to repentance and faith in God. That was the burden of John's message as he went forth to prepare the way for the Lord: 'Repent ye: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand,' he declared to the people, but he also taught them the necessity of baptism and officiated in that ordinance for all who repented of their sins." Joseph Fielding Smith, "Church History and Modern Revelation", 1:39-40.

22-24: Oliver had prayed & received an answer HC, p 35.

25-28: Oliver was writing, and probably wanted to translate -"This revelation was received during the same month that Oliver Cowdery first started to serve as scribe for Joseph Smith in the translation of the Book of Mormon. As Oliver Cowdery witnessed the gift of translation being manifested through Joseph, it would seem only natural that he would wonder about the gift and desire it for himself. Here the Lord counsels Oliver to be patient and faithful to the opportunities that had been given to him, so that additional power could be given to him later to 'assist in bring to light' those scriptures or parts of scriptures that were then not available to the peoples of the earth." Daniel H. Ludlow, "A Companion to Your Study of the Doctrine and Covenants", Vol. 1, (Deseret Book Company, 1978) p. 32

-Section 8- background HC p. 30 6-9: "Gift of Aaron" Oliver was the first to deliver a public discourse. Joseph Fielding Smith, "Church History and Modern Revelation", (Salt Lake City: Council of the Twelve Apostles, 1953), 1:52.

1-2: Oliver permitted to translate.

-Section 9- Oliver thought that translating was an easy task, when it did not come quickly, his faith wavered, and he didn't continue trying. The Lord had shown Oliver the difficulty of translation (#1, p. 92) -"It seems probable that Oliver Cowdery desired to translate out of curiosity, and the Lord taught him his place by showing him that translating was not the easy thing he had thought it to be. In a subsequent revelation (Sec. 9), the explanation was made that Oliver's failure came because he did not continue as he commenced, and the task being a difficult one, his faith deserted him. The lesson he learned was very necessary, for he was shown that his place was to act as scribe for Joseph Smith and that it was the latter who was called and appointed by command of the Lord to do the translating. There must have been some impatience in having to sit and act as scribe, but when he failed to master the gift of translating, he w as then willing to accept the will of the Lord." Joseph Fielding Smith, "Church History and Modern Revelation", 1:50-51 .

background HC p. 36

1-2, 5: Oliver will translate later 7-9: Study things.

"There is much in Oliver's experience that is profitable for our instruction in obtaining an understanding of the spirit of revelation. first, let us consider the instruction given him before his attempt to translate. That Oliver might have the assurance that he was translating by the spirit of revelation, the Lord said: [D&C 8:2-3].... We observe that neither he nor Joseph was to experience any suspension of their natural faculties in the process of obtaining revelation. Quite the contrary, their hearts and minds were to be the very media through which the vice of the Lord echoes, nor are they mechanical recording devices; prophets are men of passion, feeling, and intellect. One does not suspend agency, mind, o r spirit in the service of God. It is only with heart, might, mind and strength that we have been asked to serve, and in nothing is this more apparent than the receiving of revelation. There is no mindless worship or service in the kingdom of heaven." ; Joseph Fielding McConkie, "The Principle of Revelation," "Studies in Scripture, Volume One: The Doctrine and Covenants", edited by Robert L. Millet and Kent P. Jackson, (Randall Book Co., 1984) p. 82-83.

-Book of Commandments- (section 5) 5 And thus, if the people of this generation harden not their hearts, I will work a reformation among them, and I will put down all lyings, and deceivings, and priestcrafts, and envyings, and strifes, and idolatries, and sorceries, and all manner of iniquities, and I will establish my church, like unto the church which was taught by my disciples in the days of old.

6 And now if this generation do harden their hearts against my word, behold I will deliver them up unto satan, for he reigneth and hath much power at this time, for he hath got great hold upon the hearts of the people of this generation: and not far from the iniquities of Sodom and Gomorrah, do they come at this time: and behold the sword of justice hangeth over their heads, and if they persist in the hardness of their hearts, the time cometh that it must fall upon them.

Behold I tell you these things even as I also told the people of the destruction of Jerusalem, and my word shall be verified at this time as hath hitherto been verified.

-1981 Edition- 18 And their testimony shall also go forth unto the condemnation of this generation if they harden their hearts against them; 19 For a desolating scourge shall go forth among the inhabitants of all the earth, and shall continue to be poured out from time to time, if they repent not, until the earth is empty, and the inhabitants thereof are consumed away and utterly destroyed by the brightness of my coming.

20 Behold, I tell you these things, even as I also told the people of the destruction of Jerusalem; and my word shall be verified at this time as it hath hitherto been verified.

Lyndon W. Cook, "The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith", (Deseret Book, 1985) p. 12

Section 6 Received on or after 7 April, 1829.

Oliver Cowdery was excommunicated from the church for apostasy on 12 April 1838 at Far West, Missouri. He was rebaptized on 12 November 1848 at Kanesville, Iowa.

Lyndon W. Cook, "The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith", (Deseret Book, 1985) p. 113-14.

Section 7 "The text of section 7, as published in the Book of Commandments, was much shorter than that contained in our present edition. The additional verses were first placed in the 1835 edition of the Doctrine and Covenants.

"And the Lord said unto me, John my beloved, what desirest thou? and I said Lord, give unto me power that I may bring souls unto thee.-And the Lord said unto me: Verily, verily I say unto thee, because thou desiredst this, tou shalt tarry til I come in my glory: And for this cause, the Lord said unto Peter: "If I will that he tarry till I come, what is that to thee" for he desiredst of me that he might bring souls unto me: but thou desiredst that thou might speedily come unto me in my kingdom: I say unto thee, Peter, this was a good desire, but my beloved has undertaken a greater work. Verily I say unto you, ye shall both have according to your desires, for ye both joy that which ye have desired." Lyndon W. Cook, "The Revelation s of the Prophet Joseph Smith", (Deseret Book, 1985) p. 15.

Section 8 "Book of Commandments" w this is not all, for you have another gift, which is the gift of working with the rod: behold, it has told you things: behold there is no other power save God, that can cause this rod of nature, to work in you r hands.

-1981 Edition- 6 Now this is not all they [sic] gift; for you have another gift, which is the gift of Aaron; behold, it has told you many things; 7 Behold, there is no other power, save the power of God, that can cause this gift of Aaron to be with you .

8. Therefore, doubt not, for it is the gift of God; and you shall hold it in your hands, and do marvelous works; and no power shall be able to take it away out of your hands, for it is the work of God.

Lyndon W. Cook, "The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith", (Deseret Book, 1985) p. 16 Description of Oliver Cowdery's use of diving rod. D.

Michael Quinn, "Early Mormonism and the Magic World View", (Signature Books, 1987) p. 31-35.

"...intellectual activity can be and act of worship." Richard F.

Haglund, Jr. and David J. Whittaker, "Intellectual History", "Encyclopedia of Mormonism".

"... the elusive balance of academic, or intellectual, pursuits and learning to rely on the promptings of the Spirit. How can we avoid relying too much on the intellectual while ignoring the Spirit, or expecting spiritual solutions while ignoring our own power to reason things out for ourselves?

"[D&C 9:7-9] Of this scripture Elder Bruce R. McConkie has commented, 'Implicit in asking in faith is the precedent requirement that we don everything in our power to accomplish the goal that we seek.'

"On one side of the spectrum is the person within or without the Church who sees very little need to call upon the Lord because this person is a scholar. He wants to be independent and free in his thinking and not tied to absolute truths that the gospel tells us do exist. He may spend his life chasing down every intellectual loose end. All counsel from general or local authorities is taken with a grain of salt because, after all, their knowledge is so minimal compared to that which the scholar has amassed.

"The other end of the speectrum (sp?) is just as dangerous and is probably a greater threat to the majority of this audience. A person on this end of the spectrum thinks like this: 'I know the Church is true and I have received the gift of the Holy Ghost.

I am a worthy member of the Church and, therefore, have access to the Spirit.' When faced with a problem he will pray for an answer, and the first thought that comes to mind is cannonized. (sp?) I would purpose that an idea or solution that comes without appropriate reasoning is nothing better than a hunch. There are times of instant inspiration, but they are rare and usually involve an emergency.

"There is a sentence used in Church circles that sends a chill up my spine. It's a perfectly good sentence that packs a spiritual wallop when used by someone who has been acted upon by the Spirit, but unfortunately is too often used b those who have wandered off-center in the spectrum. I've heard it said in my ward, at Church headquarters, and I have said it myself. The sentence that turns me cold is thins: 'I feel real good about it.' Every time I hear it, I see a red flag go up. It's a perfectly good way of expressing a feeling of the Spirit, but far too often the literal translation is 'I haven't done my homework.' Some very bad decisions have been made by people who 'feel really good' about something they have to reason out in their minds." Glenn L Pace, "The Elusive Balance," "BYU 1985-86 Devotional and Fireside Speeches."

Section 10 "After Joseph Smith had received section 3, both the gold plates and the Urim and Thummim were taken from him. But 'in the few day they were returned to me,' declared the Prophet, 'when I inquired of the Lord, and the Lord said thus unto me...

Lyndon W. Cook, "The Revelations of the Prophet Joseph Smith", (Deseret Book, 1985) p. 17-18.

What more might be said to prove the divinity of the Book of Mormon?  I will bring up some other evidence besides all that I have named.  We are told in the prophecies of the holy Prophets, not only about the coming of the angel, but we are told that when God should set up his kingdom and send that angel, it should be a dispensation of gathering the people of God.  Now, supposing that Joseph Smith had all these proofs that I have named to testify concerning the divinity of this book, and had said nothing about the gathering, what then?  Why you and I could go to our homes and say, "good by Joseph Smith, we do not believe you to be a Prophet."  "Why?"  "Because the latter-day dispensation was to be characterized by the gathering together of all things in one that are in Christ, and you have said nothing about it, and therefore we reject you."  But is it so?  No; before the rise of this Church, while Joseph Smith was translating the Book of Mormon, it is predicted here, in the translation, that the Church should go forth from this continent to all the people, nations and tongues of the earth, and that all who believed should be gathered in one.  Now how did Joseph Smith know that that would be fulfilled when there was no Church in existence?  It is a very easy matter, as I said before, to prophesy, but to fulfill is another thing.  But here in Utah is the fulfillment, for here are upwards of a hundred thousand people gathered out from the nations of the earth, proving definitely, at least so far as this species of evidence is concerned, that Joseph Smith certainly was a true Prophet, for he predicted it before it commenced to take place.

Journal of Discourses, Vol.17, p.276 - p.277, Orson Pratt, November 15, 1874

It dawned on me the other day, years after I wrote this, that they now sustain the brethren as "Prophet, Seers and Revelators".  Did they use to sustain them as "Translators"?   If revelators includes translator, then why has none of the brethren finished the "Inspired Translation" of the King James Bible?  Why do we continue to use an incorrect book when we have revelators or translators on the earth to fix the plain an precious truths missing from the bible?  Joseph Smith said that he had finished his work and had laid the work upon the shoulders of the 12 apostles?  Did he really finished  the "Joseph Smith Translation" of the bible?  If not why have not the 12 or it's senior member finished the "Inspired Version" of the Bible?

I still contend that "Divined" is more accurate term to be used, since Joseph Smith did not know Egyptian, in the linguistic sence, to be able to translate from one language to another, as indicated by his Egyptian Alphabet and Grammar, or the Kinderhook plates.

We the citizens of Kinderhook whose names are annexed, do certify and declare that on the 23rd of April, 1843, while excavating a large mound in this vicinity Mr. R. Wiley took from said mound six brass plates of a bell shape, covered with ancient characters. Said plates were very much oxydated. The bands and rings on said plates moldered into dust on a slight pressure.

[Mill. Star, Vol. XXI., p. 44.]

Since these plates were sent to Nauvoo for the inspection of the Prophet Joseph, it will be of interest to know what view he took of them. The following occurs in his journal under date of Monday, May 1st, 1843:

B. H. Roberts, New Witnesses for God, Vol.3, p.62

I insert facsimile of the six brass plates found near Kinderhook, in Pike county, Illinois, on April 23, by Mr. R. Wiley and others, while excavating a large mound. They found a skeleton about six feet from the surface of the earth, which must have stood nine feet high. The plates were found on the breast of the skeleton, and were covered on both sides with ancient characters. I have translated a portion of them, and find they contain the history of the person with whom they were found. He was a descendant of Ham, through the loins of Pharaoh, king of Egypt and that he received his kingdom from the ruler of heaven and earth.        [emphasis added]

Mill. Star Vol. XXI., p. 40.
History of the Church, Vol.5, Ch.19, p.372
B. H. Roberts, New Witnesses for God, Vol.3, p.62

More accurate information can be found at:                  (search for the word kinderhook)    (search for the word kinderhook)     (search for the word kinderhook)     (search for the word kinderhook)

An apologetic view of the Kinderhook plates can be found at:

This page has moved, it was as :, it used to contain things to the effect of " The Kinderhook plates incident was a hoax / forgery."

Barton, J. G., The Kinderhook Plates, Discovery or Deception? Ancient American 3, no. 19/20 [1997]: 30-33.

I have recently had a very forceful Epiphany, a major paradigm shift, yea even a transient change of heart! See Disclaimer.

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